what jail is like

Bipolar skull by Taiyo85 on Deviantart
Bipolar skull by Taiyo85 on Deviantart

Dear Internet,
As the kids say, I’m full of all sorts of feels today.
In addition to the sexual harassment shenanigans going on, I received an invite from my mother this weekend to dinner at her place for Thanksgiving with the words, “It is time to forgive and forget. Sincerely apologize” scribbled on the card. There is a metric fuck ton on that topic I need to write in regards to our estrangement, but not today.
No, today we’re going to skip talking about my pussy and boobs and my mother issues and talk about my brain.
Tonight I had a fairly final appointment with my medicating shrink, Dr. H.  I’ve been Lithium free, bipolar and ADHD drug free actually, for nearly a month and feeling pretty damn good about the whole thing. In a lot of ways, I feel like I moved over the hurdle of the mess that had become my life, sought help and while the drugs did not work, found some kind of manageable world that I can exist in the moment and not think of what could/may/potentially happen in the future.
Being bipolar is a fucked up diagnosis. You’re either vilified as being a fucking lunatic and you’re expected, thanks to the media, to accept the condition they present to the masses or treated as the ultimate muse who can spin spiderwebs of creativity at the drop of a hat.
I’ve stopped watching Homeland because I got tired of them treating Carrie’s bipolar as this alternate superhero trait and presenting that anyone with bipolar can go on a sexy times bender, complete with smooth jazz, which warrants a good reason for her demise. Another particularly interesting insight they like to allude to is at ANY TIME Carrie can go bat shit insane! And poof! She’s carted off to the psych ward and given ECT.  Against her will.
(I have made TheHusband promise, no matter how bad it ever gets in the future, he will not allow them to give me ECT. Not in a fucking million years. No.)
Life doesn’t work that way, especially when you’re chemically imbalanced. Not by a long shot. When my mother tried to commit suicide a decade ago, getting her checked in to a psych ward was fucking paper work galore – because isn’t it always? The endless amounts of paperwork when your mother has OD’d on insulin is kind of astounding and makes concrete two things I hope to do in life: Not go to jail or get checked into a psych ward.
(They also had Carrie eating Lithium like its candy and IT WILL REACT THIS VERY SECOND. Lithium takes weeks to get to a medicating level and then you have to take into account the blood work involved and the cannots that could dampen the drugs effectiveness. Lithium, when it works, is a miracle drug if you’re willing to give up alcohol, pain relievers, your sex drive, and are prepared for the amped anxiety and ADHD like symptoms to name a few lovely sideeffects.)
I also get twitchy reading these stories about people who do major things in their life — lose a million pounds, conquered a major disease, overcame their illnesses. We’re only given these tiny snapshots of their insular world in these pieces and golden road after golden road on how much better their life now is! Which is fine, but it’s so hard to relate to someone when they gloss over the details and give up this facade of a mirror under the guise of “I get you.” No, you don’t get me. This is why being crazy is well crazy. Every diagnosis may have a blanket term, but how individually we are under that diagnosis varies as widely as the color spectrum.
TheHusband will tell you living with me while going on and off the drugs, was a goddamned nightmare. What Lisa was he going to end up today? Was I going to put clothes on and go to work or would I call in sick because the thought of getting out of bed was too much to fucking bear? Would I refuse to eat for random reasons or cry for hours because of images of baby elephants triggered that particular spell on that particular day? And I haven’t gotten into the mania yet which transfers, sometimes for me, into excessive shopping and long periods of not sleeping. I’m talking days of going on a few hours of sleep and lots of caffeine.
Sometimes, both at the same time.
Being crazy is ugly. You lose friends who can’t handle the mood swings; you lose jobs, lovers, your sense of self-worth, your dignity, your grace. One minute you’re high on the world and the next, you want to burn it all to the ground and salt the earth. Sometimes the highs last for a really good long period, when the world seems that much sharper, in focus and BOOM! Without warning, it flips and you’re huddled in week old clothing why you can’t bother to get up to shower.  You can track my entire adult career in education, jobs, and relationships on where exactly on the spectrum I was for my mania or depression.
Being crazy is lonely. People turn away from you, friends wander off, lovers break up with you, you have no real outlet to say, “This is me. This is who I am. There are going to be some really amazing days and some really awful days, but if you hang on, it’ll be okay.” Because you have, in a sense, said this before at the last break-up, the last phone call, the last email to someone. They’ve heard this story before — just get some help, they will tell you. Get some help, put your world back together. But what if, like in my case, the help that is supposed to set you free actually imprisons you? I cannot physically take the drugs for my disease. I have tried numerous times and each drug cocktail has shaved off days, weeks, months, sometimes years of time that I will never get back from all the lost time of experimentation. Now what? There is no handbook for this sort of thing, how am I supposed to put my world together if my world is so fragile, the smallest of changes can send it shattering into a million pieces?
Being crazy is exhausting. Whether from the drugs or the pure, raw sheer strength of keeping yourself together during the hour, day, or even the minute. The constant on guard of your feelings, emotions to make sure they don’t explode over everyone you meet.
Today I am neither ugly, lonely, or exhausted. Today has been a good day, as was yesterday and as I hope tomorrow is. Being free is knowing I have done everything under my control to keep this disease in check, to as prepared as much as I can for when the next wave hits, and hope that it will all be over soon.
I end this with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers:

There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a… a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know… a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle… and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt. Troy Dyer


This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2011

4 thoughts on “what jail is like”

  1. Another fantastic post. Posts like this give me the courage to tell the truth about my life and inspire me to write about it. I get you. I get you ‘cos my life is a lot like this. No, I have not been diagnosed bipolar…..I’m fat, which in this society makes you crazy. And my life has been like this in so many ways.
    And I agree about Homeland. It has become unbearable for me to watch.

  2. Well this touched a nerve. I just wish my mental issues were diagnosed earlier (don’t we all, we’re all products of a suck-it-up childhood, no?) But my crazy is such a part of past me and I’m full of regret and shame for behavior that I thought defined me, when it just defined my illness. {{hugz}}

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